The 2011 Mountain Lions' football season marked the last of coach Tom Palfey's three-year contract.
This meant that the school board would determine whether to open up Palfey's job or keep him for another year. The board voted to open up Palfey's position, but Palfey will reapply for the job.
This decision was the wrong move.
Palfey should be given a contract extension because the numbers suggest that the team has improved and will continue to do so in the upcoming season.
Here are 10 reasons why Palfey should remain head coach of the Mountain Lions:
1) In 2009, the defense gave up an average of 7.1 yards per carry. That number was brought down to 6.2 in 2010 and 6.1 in 2011. The defense also allowed 2,087 yards in 2010 on the ground. In 2011, the defense allowed 1,631.
2) One of the most notable signs of improvement came on the scoreboard, where it counts the most. In 2011, the Lions gave up 83 fewer points than in 2010. The points-allowed statistic decreased every season that Palfey has been the Mountain Lions' head coach.
3) Offensively, the Lions scored 143 points in 2011, 25 more than the previous year. That is also 46 more points than the team scored in 2009.
4) In 2011, the defense also allowed 9.2 fewer points per game than it did in 2010.
5) Through the air, senior quarterbacks Louis Bettwy and Tyler Palfey had a combined 45 percent completion rating in 2011. The 2010 season saw four different quarterbacks with a combined completion rating of just 40 percent. In 2009, the team had a completion rating of 39 percent.
6) In 2011, the Lions did something not done since 2007: shut out an opponent. The team shut out Plum on homecoming, 23-0.
7) The team scored 55 points, which was the most in any single game of the Palfey era. The most in 2010 was 27, and in 2009 it was 18.
8) The defense had six interceptions. In 2010, the defense was only able to pick off one pass.
9) Another impressive turnover number was that the Lions had a +2 turnover ratio in 2011. That number was minus-9 a season before. In 2009, the turnover ratio was minus-19.
10) The most important number that shows improvement is in the win column. In 2010, the Lions were held winless for the first time since the Truman administration. In 2011, the Lions won three games.
The bottom line is that the Mountain Lion football team has improved during the Palfey era.
The numbers prove that Palfey has been able to improve the team, despite switching conferences.
Keeping Palfey as the head coach is the smart and logical thing to do. Remember that great football programs do not just happen over night. It takes time.
Darian Somers works part-time in the Mirror sports department. A senior at Altoona Area High School, he has covered Tom Palfey's head-coaching career for AAHS's student paper, the Mountain Echo.